In Manx skies... February 2017 ~ compiled by Dave Storey



Moon

New
26th at 14.58h

First Quarter
4th at 04.19h

Full
11th at 00.33h

Last Quarter
18th at 19.18h



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Note: All times are Universal Time (UT) = GMT = IoM local time.


There is a penumbral lunar eclipse on the 11th. All of this eclipse will be visible from the Isle of Man. The penumbral shadow will first contact the Moon at 22h34m16s on the 10th when the Moon will be 34° in altitude. Maximum eclipse occurs at 00h45m03s on the 11th when the Moon will have an altitude of 48°. The eclipse ends at 02h53m26s. During the eclipse, you should be able to detect a distinct darkening towards the northern limb of the Moon, especially around maximum eclipse. Click here for details.


There is an annular solar eclipse on the 26th . This is visible from the South Pacific Ocean and South Atlantic Ocean, from South America to South Africa. Non of the eclipse will be seen from the Isle of Man. Click here for details.

Sun

Solar activity is low with solar cycle 24 now in force.

WARNING: NEVER DIRECTLY OBSERVE THE SUN WITH YOUR NAKED EYES AND/OR OPTICAL INSTRUMENTATION: YOU WILL BE BLINDED!

Carrington's Solar Rotation number 2187 starts on the 6th at 17h26m58s.

Mercury

Is in dawn skies but will be too close to the to be easily seen this month.

Venus



Will be stunning after sunset, shining at a brilliant magnitude -4.7 during the month. It will be at its brightest on the 17th. On the 1st of the month, Venus will be seen near to Mars and the crescent Moon with Mars being between Venus and the Moon.
As seen through a telescope, the phase will be 39.6% illuminated on the 1st and will shrink to 17.8% by 28th. As it approaches the earth, it will grow in apparent size from 30.9 arc seconds to 46.2 arc seconds.

Mars

Will be seen after sunset along with Venus as mentioned above. It it travelling direct (west to east) in Pisces for most of the month. It has a brief moment in Cetus for about 11½ on the 7th!
The planets distance from Earth increases from 1.8AU (Astronomical Unit) to 2.0AU and consequently, its apparent disc size will shrink from a tiny 5.1 arc seconds to 4.6 arc seconds. Seeing any surface details will be difficult from our shores. Its magnitude will fade slightly also from +1.1 to +1.3 On the 27th, there is a conjunction of Mars with dim Uranus (magnitude +5.9) when Uranus will be 0.5° south of Mars.

Jupiter

Rises half hour before midnight on the first and by months end, it will be rising at 21.40h.
It shines at magnitude -2.1 to -2.3 and will be seen in Virgo for all the month. The brightest star in Virgo is Spica (Magnitude +1.1) and will be seen below Jupiter. The planet will be travelling direct motion (west to east) until the 7
th when it will revert to a retrograde motion (east to west) for the remainder of the month.

As the moons orbit Jupiter, there are occasions when the shadow of the moons can be seen upon the surface of Jupiter and the moons can transit across Jupiter's disc. Also, the moons can be seen to be occulted or eclipsed by Jupiter. There are many events throughout the month. See periodicals such as the BAA Handbook, Astronomy Now and Sky at Night magazines for listings.

The Great Red Spot may be seen using a telescope in good seeing conditions. Using a light blue filter with an eyepiece will help. Opportunities to see the Great Red Spot from Mann occur on a regular basis, click here for suitable dates and times.

To help you identify the moons at any particular time, Sky and Telescope have a Java tool that will plot the moon positions. Click Here.

Saturn

Is a pre dawn sky object, found in Ophiuchus at the beginning of the month and ending up in Sagittarius by end of the month. It will be shining at magnitude +0.5. and will be best seen at the end of the month.

The bright moon Titan can be found east of the planet on 4
th , 5th 6th ,20th , 21st and 22nd . Titan will be west of the planet on 12th ,13th , 14th and 28th .

Meteors

There are no meteor showers this month. Any meteors seen will be sporadic background meteors.

Lunar
Occultations
(Stars Brighter than Magnitude +6.0)

Date Time            ZC#      Magnitude. P.A.  Type of event.    Notes

2nd      18 58 10    249 K3    4.5          052     D     SAO 110065 nu Psc
3rd      23 29 58    405SF1    4.3          091     D     SAO 110723 mu Cet D*
4th      17 56 36    508cK0    4.1          090     D    SAO 93469 5 Tau D*
5th      17 46 00    671SA7    3.4          065     D     SAO 93957 Theta 2 Tau D*
5th      17 51 04    669SG7    3.8          043     D     SAO 93955 Theta 1 Tau D*
5th      18 46 31    675DF0    5.6          147     D     SAO 93970 80 Tau D*
5th      18 56 58    678SA      5.5          135     D     SAO 93978 81 Tau D*
5th      19 17 29    677WA    6 4          005     D     SAO 93975 D*
5th      19 27 36    682cF4    6.0          109     D     SAO 93993 85 Tau D*
5th      22 54 16    699SF0    5.8          131     D     SAO 94043 89 Tau D*
7th      00 00 13    878cF0    5.5          115     D     SAO 94858 130 Tau D*
8th      22 56 07    1158cM0  5.0          049     D     SAO 97120 74 Gem D*
12th    03 32 53    1550DA2  5.6          314     R     SAO 118380 49 Leo D*


For very detailed list of occultations visible this month, click here. (Data from Occult Software)

Times are UT as seen from IoMAS Observatory. Start to observe these events about 20 minutes before the above times to allow for differences in your latitude and longitude. This will give you time to locate the star that is about to be occulted.

ZC = Zodiacal Catalogue. Type of Event DD = disappearance at dark limb, RD = Reappearance at dark limb. RB = Reappearance on bright limb. PA = Position Angle around limb of the Moon, where 0 degrees is north, 90 degrees is east, 180 degrees is south and 270 degrees is west.
D* = Double Star

The above predictions were calculated from Occult software by David Herald. More information regarding this software may be found at the lunar-occultations.com web site.

Algol

This star drops from magnitude +2.1 to +3.4 in about 5 hours. Suitable events visible from the Isle of Man this month occur on 3rd at 01.12h, 5th at 22.00h, 23rd at 02.54h, 25th at 23.42h and 28th at 20.30h. Click here for a star chart for Algol.

Comet

Comet P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova (45P) will be brighter than 10th magnitude up until the 20th. It will be low down in the east in the constellation Aquila before sunrise at the start of the month, shining at magnitude +7.9. The viewing situation improves as the days progress as it gains altitude in our skies. It rapidly crosses the skies and ends up in Boötes on the 14th when it will have faded to +8.5. Click here for a star chart covering 1st to 10th. Click here for a chart covering the 10th to 28th . For an ephemeris, click here.

Comet C/2015 V2 (Johnson) becomes brighter than 10th magnitude from the 12th and can be found in Hercules. The comet will continue to brighten and may be magnitude +7 by June.

Click here for a star chart and click here for an ephemeris.

ISS

The international Space Station crosses the Manx skies on a regular basis. For the latest information on when the ISS is due to pass across the sky over the next ten days, visit the link below.

ISS transit Information from Heavens Above.com


Bibliography for Manx Night Skies

The Handbook of the British Astronomical Association 2017. BAA. 2016
Stargazing 2017. Heather Couper & Nigel Henbest. Philip's 2016
2017 Guide to the Night Sky. Storm Dunlop & Wil Tirion. Collins 2016
2017: An Astronomical Year (U.K. Edition) Richard J. Bartlett. October 2016
Yearbook 2017. Sky at Night. BBC. Immediate Media Company, Bristol. 2016
Observer's Handbook Meteors. Neil Bone. Philip's 1993
Atlas of the Night Sky. Storm Dunlop. Collins. 2005
Constellations. Josef Klepešta and Antonin Rükl. Hamlyn. 1979
Brilliant Stars. Patrick Moore. The Book People Ltd. 1996
Complete Guide to Stargazing. Robin Scagell. Phillip's. 2006
Turn Left at Orion. Guy Consolmango and Dan M. Davis. Cambridge U.P. 2008
Norton's 2000.0 Edited Ian Ridpath. Longman Scientific & Technical. 1989

Planetary data derived from Guide 9 Software.
Picture graphics derived from Stellarium and Guide 9 Software.